Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Heathrow High Lights

 Sign at Kiehls in Heathrow
Promoting finest quality skin, face, body and hair care products
derived from unique natural ingredients
I need to be at the airport just a bit sooner than normal folk – my idea of being on time is being there long before the plane is ready to depart. Travelling with someone is more fun that travelling alone, for part of the fun is checking with someone to see if they saw what I saw.

When I saw this model at Kiehls, I thought of the blogging work of Jeni Johnson. She travels a lot and I see pictures of bridges, airports, clouds or sunsets on her blog.

Or she might post pictures of groups of her friends in every city, or what a new hotel room looks like. Not that hers is the stuff of ordinary lives, but surely it is the stuff of that group of people who spend a lot of their time in the air.

I was wanting to do a contest with her, or at least have a dialogue in the form of who can find the most interesting display in an airport.

... watching the luggage loaded on AC 851
Walking down the connector passage, the one that takes you from the terminal to the plane, I saw a door on which there was graffiti.
The first person had scrawled, “There are no steps on the other side of this door”. I couldn’t resist moving closer to the door and peering out the window. Yes. A two-story drop.

The line underneath the first piece of graffiti deepened the conversation with “Why not”.

The third graffiti responder had written, “Bear with us, “We are working hard to approve the facilities at this airport”.

The crowd behind me was pushing me along. When I board at Terminal 29 again, I will be looking for the new additions to that conversation.

When I showed my passport for now, the third time in the airport, before I was allowed into the Air Canada waiting room, the attendant looked at my passport, looked back at my face, looked again at the passport, then returned to study my face again and finally asked, “Are you feeling well.”
...moving sidewalk at Heathrow Terminal 3...

Given how terribly awful passport pictures are, if I look worse than that, I decided then and there to add something new to my daily exercise.

 I do not know what I will add, but I am going downhill fast if that passport photo is taken as my best measure for the look of good health.

The ride home terrific!  I watched movies non-stop.  I hit pay dirt  J. Edgar, The Descendents, Jack and Jill, A Week with Marilyn [Monroe] and Like Crazy. 

A Dangerous Mind was also one of the choices, but the plane landed too soon.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wine Gum Happy Face

Maynard Wine Gums
I am packing, leaving for Canada. 

A big "oh boy" to the last day here -- wanting to do all of the last minute things. 

Why didn't Rebecca and I get to see Chicago?  What happened to that plan?

And about that paper I was going to type while she talked. Why did that pass us by?

How about the British Museum, that sacred place that houses the treasures stolen from the colonies?  I wanted to lay my eyes on more of the artifacts there ... just one more time. 

The only thing we really got done was build this wine gum face out of the candies that we couldn't consume while we commiserated about not being able to go, go, go for 24/7. 

I got to see little purple crocuses peeking out of the grass, and the green stalks  of the daffodils that will flower next week, just now reaching out of the earth. 

Goodbye, lovely London.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Bed in a Box

David Camps Johnson is in a beaver pack.

Their week-end activity was to have a camp-out: they were to make and sleep in a bed in a box. The goal was to take large boxes, like the ones sofa’s or refrigerators come in, and create some kind of place you would like to sleep in – a car, a building, an igloo, and in David’s case, ... a tree.

The fathers who attended knew to bring along an exacto knife and some duct tape, at the very least.  The more skilled fathers brought along electric saws to help cut out doors and windows.

Bonnie didn’t know to come with anything but the boxes, so she and David spent a lot of time borrowing from others. 

“Don’t worry.  There are no points taken off for ugly,” one of the father’s quipped to Bonnie.

Hayden’s sister came over to help Bonnie and David by adding graffiti to his tree, as well as sleeping over with them.  Room for two now became a room for three, with Bonnie spending very little of the night asleep.

Of any of the children, Bonnie thinks that David did the most work on his creation.  That is because he kept asking her to stop helping; she just didn’t understand the creative genius that was to emerge as his “tree-bed in a box”.

Bonnie says, "I have no desire to ever camp in a box again.”

David Camps says, “I had no idea camping could be so much fun.”

March Highlights

Comedy of Errors
Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian
Moiya told me that she and Bonnie sat down and figured out when the next HD Live performances will be coming.  Then Moiya went off to Seattle.

Still, whether you are in Sicamous, or Seattle or Calgary or London, the performances keep rolling on.

The following are my pick for March.  You will have to look and see what is on at a theatre near you:

1. March 1 -- Comedy of Errors -- NT Live

2. March 3 -- Enchanted Island -- Live in HD from the Met (also March 26th at some theatres)

3. March 29 -- She Stoops to Conquer -- NT Live

4. March 4 -- Ernani -- Live in HD from the Met

5. Sharon Pollock Celebration -- March 29 - 31- University of Calgary

Don’t Give Away Ice-Cream

The self help books present a conundrum, well probably several of them.  But I am thinking of a specific one today.  I am still reading How to Behave so Your Children Will Too.  Chapter 4 is titled “Don’t Give Away Ice-Cream”.  Now is this really going to work in a family where ice-cream is something that is always given away – in large bowls, with seconds.  O.K.  I do agree that all of us work for rewards – adults for that paycheck at the end of the month; children for that extra boost to their allowance.  But ice-cream?  No, ice-cream is meant to be given away.

Still, today Rebecca promised that if our work was done (hers and mine) by 6 pm we would go see Hugo at the cinema.  So I deviled those eggs, worked pulling weeds in the garden, put a couple of washes through, walked to Sainsbury’s to help carry the groceries back in the two-wheeler carts that went up there empty and came back so loaded that we had to be careful going over curbs so that nothing fell out.
Right up to the last moment when we were to leave, Rebecca was putting the jobs in front of me, the ones she was doing herself.  Duncan taking a shower requires someone to go up there and run a pick through that mass of tight curls that he has to deal with for hair.  I took the 20 minutes that it always takes, to put the groceries away, and with 2 minutes to spare we left for the movies.

Rebecca and I were going voluntarily. Duncan was going by assignment.  “That is how people become families,” I was saying, “the do things together.  And besides that, I packed my purse full of treats for you, so darn it all, you are coming.”

I choose the front seats on top of the double-decker bus.  Duncan likes the seats at the back.  For me that is like turning the binoculars around at a concert and getting the long view of the front window, instead of the close-ups.  At our bus stop, we ran down the isle, and were heading down the stairs.  I never go down them but I remember Wyona tripping when the bus suddenly sped forward.  She went running double-time down the stairs and hit the bottom side panel of the stairs with such force that I thought she would just slide down them in a dead faint, or at least have a dislocated shoulder.  So I was being carefully, as I am, every time I go down those stairs.  However, for me, the bus driver hit the brake and I gracefully laid myself back on the stairs, first my bottom limbs, then my bottom, then my back, then my arms – just sprawled out there.  Duncan was intoning behind me, “Grandma, get up, get up.  You are blocking the stairs.  What are you doing there?  Don’t do that.  We are going to miss getting off the bus. Hurry up.”

I should have titled these words, Another First for Me.  I am not referring to my fall on the bus, but to yesterday when I saw my first of the recent 3-D movies.  I saw some early 3-D movies twenty years ago, when we had glasses that were green in one lens and red in the other.  So yesterday, I saw the new 3-D, Journey to: The Incredible Island with Duncan.  If one is good, then 2 is better.

Promotional Poster for Hugo
So off I went to  Hugo.  There couldn’t have been two happier adults in the thatre than Rebecca and me: a person who teaches film, and a person what has taken many film courses in the past few years.  In 25 words or less, the film is a good tool to teach about early film – using the work of George Méliès, the French illusionist and film-maker.  Rebecca, Duncan and I walked all of the way home, chatting about how good the film had been, “Like an exquisite poem,” Rebecca said.  “And Duncan, you knew all of the actors in it, even the ones who made cameo appearances”.  They exchanged information happily about who had appeared in the Harry Potter films and where they had seen the other actors. I scored a big zero in that conversation.

Much later this evening, I figured out that I had seen those early films on the big screen for the first time.  I have seen them projected on a screen at the front of a classroom, but there is something magical about the big screen in the theatre, filled with all of that sound, and having all of that background knowledge about early film making, wrapped up in such a beautiful package.

Well, I still say, give away ice-cream, ... but make people work to get a chance to go the movies.  I will put in a twelve hour day for that opportunity.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Art Sticker Book

Art Sticker Book
Rebecca purchased an Art Sticker Book at the National Gallery. I have been using it while she was gone, as a way for Duncan to earn money. All he has to do is put the stickers on the right page, memorize five of the painting on that page, and he earns five pounds.

One page in the book was titled "Colour" and what the paintings had in common is that the artists used bold splashes of colour to brighten up the painting. The  pages included the following titles: "Bathers at Amieres (Seurat)", "Cacchus and Ariadne (Titian)", "Harvest: Le Pouldu (Gaugin)", "Ophelia Among the Flowers (Seurat)" and "The Skiff (Renoir)". 

So far Duncan is up to 17 pounds, since after the first 3 pages, the price for identifying the paintings dropped from 5 pounds a page to 2 pounds a page.

Rebecca was remembering the past at our house, not in terms of making money, but she was thinking about a game we used to play that is now out of print. The board game was called Masterpiece. In the game you were at an art auction and you bought and sold masterpieces.  As a side event to the game, she learned many of the names of the famous paintings she is now seeing in the National Gallery.

With some nostalgia, she went out to Google to see if anyone was selling their old game.  She put a bid in on one of them.

I think she should just go down to the National Gallery and enjoy them on the wall.



... 1/7 of this nesting doll ...
I am pretty well shameless when it comes to asking for what I want. Even though I know Rebecca loathes shopping, I asked her to buy me 2 kinds of matrushkas when she was in Russia. I know. I know. I was there myself and should have bought them ... and I did buy some. But obviously, not enough for I needed two more: a traditional one with either landscape scenes, or one painted with the stories of traditional folk tales.

... exquisite face detail ...
Her hosts took her to the bazaar by the church, the bazaar that we were told not to go to by the cruise line. This bazaar is infamous as a place where pick pockets target trusting tourists, so the cruise line was right to give that warning. However, Rebecca's hosts were the ones who knew that this would be the place to get what she was looking for ... and they had the added cultural knowledge to know when the price was too high and when it was fair.

"4000 rubbles? You must be joking. I don't think so. 3000? Yes. "
... details of the sledding scene on the body of the doll...

Rebecca's friends tried to talk her into purchasing a beautiful Fabergé egg, or at least a copy of one.  "You don't want matrushkas", they coaxed.

I know that the Fabergé egg should appeal to me, but how fun is it to sit with a grandchild and look at one of those eggs.

Boring.  Open, close.  Open, close.

I like the imagined joy of playing house -- just a child and me and the nesting dolls.

Much  happiness! Open, close and talk about what each one is thinking, where they are going, what they will be doing next.

 ...10 Russian leaders as nesting dolls ...
My dreams of happiness have run into a snag with the second matrushka she purchased for me. After lining them up on the table, I realized I can't identify all of the leaders.

"Marx?", I asked Rebecca, pointing to one of them.

"No Arta. Remember, he is German. Marx is not a choice."

We have spent considerable time, looking for pictures of Russian leaders on the internet, trying to figure out who is whom, a task that it would seem requires more than an undergraduate degree in music.

See Rebeca's forthcoming blog on this matter as we ask for help.


Squid in a Tin

...squid in a tin ... with original squid ink...
...which I served on the side...
One the TV programmes that doesn't interest me, is the one where chefs are given five ingredients, and then told to do something creative with those foodstuffs, in less than 30 minutes.

How did someone market a technqiue into a TV programme that does just what women have been doing for years, ie looking in almost empty cupboards, finding five ingredients, and making a feast out of what seems is going to be a famine.

When I saw 2 tins of squid in Rebecca's cupboard, I did ask her who had purchased these.

 "Oh, Alex wanted to try them, but I think his interest is now gone."

Fine, I thought. I can hide those in some egg foo yung, a dish I can whip up in 30 minutes or less.

On opening them, I had to taste them -- having never had tins of those in my cupboards.

First one, then another, then a third piece, and then the question to Rebecca before they were gone, "Have you tried these yet?"

"A bit fishy", she said, "and I have never tasted 'fish' in egg food yung."

I can remember adding shrimp to egg foo yung (though I must not have done it when Rebecca lived at home), so it wasn't exactly her comment that held me back from tossing the squid in.

Still, I held off and served them on the side, still in the tin to the right of the picture.

Anyone wish they were eating with us that night?  If your answer is yes, you can see, there wouldn't have been much left for you by the time we finally sat down to eat.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Derwent Bus Stop

... the bus not taken ...
Our bus stop is one half a block where we walk up to the High Street, and then one half a block down that street and across the zebra cross walk to the bus stop.

Though the sign says that the bus will be coming every eight to ten minutes, the bus drives by even faster than that.

Now I know my way to the regular movie theatre, the theatre that shows the classic movies, the bus station where I can change to other lines, and the way right to Victoria Station ...going by bus instead of tube.

LtoR: Steve, Duncan and Rebecca
Here, I am out having a ride with the Carter-Johnsons.

They are still tourists in a town they have made their own, for they go right for the top of the double-decker bus and take that front seat to watch London pass by below.

I tried to get that kid in the picture to go to the movies with me tonight -- the Muppets or Hugo, since he has been complaining that I just make him play boring games of Cribbage.


No movie either.

The joy of thinking an evening might be spent with friends on X-box trumps anything I could offer in the way of outside entertainment -- even a new movie with popcorn and treats.

Sign me,

Failed grandmother

Dumb dog, why are you following me?

Her kennel has her name painted on it:
Kiwi Carter-Johnson
I was telling Steve that there are sights and sounds of my childhood that come back to me, suddenly, just as though I am back in that place again.

One of them happened to me as I was walking by the food that the dog eats. It is purchased in big 50 pound bags, is dry and is stored by the washer and drier.  That means, when I bend down to sort the whites from the blacks, it is probable that I will get some smells of the past.

When I could smell that again, that musty wet mash smell of the commercial dry mix that my dad would stir up and feed to his dogs, I could be 8 years old for the way that my mind can place me directly in that now-long-forgotten past.

We didn't have dogs that stayed inside.

Doral's were dogs were kenneled outside, and trained to hunt with him, either setters or spaniels.

What we have here is a dog that doesn't know who she is, a poodle or a setter.

 ... a little setter in the Carter-Johnson poodle ...
Take a look at her stance in the yard this morning.

I was out trying to capture a bird that sits high on a tree. "A hawk," I said to Steve, earlier in the morning.

"A pigeon," he replied.

So, off to gather my killer evidence, something on film that would convince my son-in-law I was right.  I travelled to the back yard, and there was Kiwi behind me, her tail up, her legs apart, her nose pointing to the air, one paw in the air, making any Setter owner proud -- except that she is known at home as a poodle.

Somehow, connected to the dog is the following.  Previously, Rebecca and I were talking about her kids and the fact that though both of them fear "punishment", neither of them know exactly what that looks like, nor can they articulate the forms it takes, since they have never been punished.

Obviously Steve is right.  This is no hawk!
But somehow there is a punishment, a terrible one implied in Steve's strong words to them, "Either do 'X' or I will assign you to clean up the dog excrement in the back yard".

"No, not that, Dad," they say in terror.

One morning, when I was out doing a little yard work, I thought to myself, "how can this punishment be .. the "clean up the dog poop" side of the two horned dilemma they face for their punishment?"

Having never seen one of the boys choose that alternative presented to them,  I decided to see what it felt like.

I suited up appropriately (bagged my hands) and finished cleaning everything up in far less time than it would have taken me to mop a floor or put away dishes, or sort the wash.

I have never done that job before,  in my life, for anyone's dog.

If it were presented as one of the alternatives to one of my regular time-consuming and invisible house maintenance jobs, I would take it any time for the speed with which it can be done.

Still, at the end of the day, I felt somewhat like Steve had Tom Sawyer-ed m.


Window Shopping

These pink-flowered boots are made for walkin'
I had an hour before the theatre began ...  and no schedule.

It was dark by now and the commuters were underground, taking their tube rides home.

I love those times when there is nothing to do in London but walk down the streets and look in the windows .. at shoes that I think Mary might buy ... or at tourists with their families, having meals in the ethnic  restaurants before the shows they have planned to go to open.

The refuse from the food and clothing establishments is put out on the streets after dark, and I watched the garbage trucks picking up the blue and white bags by the curb, the garbage trucks with their flashing lights, rolling slowly down the street beside the curbs.

Catchy SALE sign
If I created that sign, I am sure someone would tell me to 

go get a larger piece of cardboard.
I had strolled through Covent Garden, but the people with wares to sell were packing up their goods, loading them into large plastic containers and slipping them into their vans that now lined the streets. People were lined up under food kiosks as well, and there is a hint of romance in the lighting under the awnings reflecting off of the steaming pans of food being offered to customers.

As well, men with sandwich boards on their backs were letting me know that 2 for 1 pizza is being sold a few streets over.

In other times, I might take one of the samples their companions offer from a big silver platter, but last week I watched Steve fighting off a bout of food poisoning.

I practised restraint, wanting to move with good health through these last days in London.

 ... buckles, buttons and chords for nautical wear ...
With heightened interest, I began looking in the shop windows where only buttons, cording and buckles for nautical wear were sold.

I can understand someone stopping to buy a garment that is pre-made, but this shop only offered bits and pieces out of which you could construct your own nautical costume.

I have enough unfinished projects at home already.

 I passed.

When I saw people step into scaffolding and then disappear downwards, their waists gone, then their shoulders, then their heads, I took a few steps back to see why they were going "missing" in this fashion.

On the ground sat a blackboard with a chalk sign: Frevd, a cocktail glass and some stairs at the bottom of which was an arrow pointing even further downward.

The cafe had the aura of one of those shops into which one disappears and lands up in the Netherworld.
Windows of The Organic Pharmacy

I can't remember the names of all of the shops I am passing, so I say one to myself, say the next one, then on walking past the third, I drop the name of the first, and thus make my way down the street, trying to make sense of the new names of shops.

When I read the words, The Organic Pharmacy, I couldn't help think of all of the synthetic products in the pharmacies where I pick up my medications.

But when the clerks came out on the street to smoke, I saw that their skin was flawless, and their make-up was perfect, so this might not be the kind of pharmacy I am used to frequenting.

...white cuffs and collar...
Do I know a man who would wear a shirt like this?

White collar and cuffs, pine striped sleeves, the left and the front of the shirt in different dark patterns.

 My eye is often drawn to the shirts the British men are wearing -- especially when they are pink or fushia.  Actually, I am thinking, what is this culture doing, different than the one back home, that it can get men to wear shirts that color?

This shirt was different, ... and beautiful ... and I wish I could have seen a man walking in it, a man with confidence because the shirt deserved such a wearer.

And thus endeth my hour before the theatre.


Rock of Ages

Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian
Thomas ten Cate emailed and said he would like to meet up, having read I was in London, and in fact, he works close to Victoria Station, so it wouldn’t be to hard to find ourselves in the same area some night.

When I had tickets for two to Rock of Ages fall off of a turnip truck and into my hands, I asked him if we could meet up at the Shaftsbury Theatre door for the show.

Then I went to do my homework.

The tickets were in the Stalls and as cheap as I could get them anywhere.  I love the Stalls after having seen the last couple of shows from high in one of the baclonies.

The review in the London Guardian was so brutal, I had to read it twice, hoping that somewhere in the lines there, I could find something I wanted to see in the show.

Rebecca had been going with us, and she backed out. She is the person who knew all of the songs, and in fact, the show is just an excuse to string the popular songs from Motley Crue into a pleasant evening's entertainment (or an unpleasant evening's entertainment, if you go with the critique of the show).

Theatre Poster for Rock of Ages
A blogger had said that the show has been running two years in the U.S., and that if it is viewed as pure entertainment, just a night of fun, that what the critics are narrowing in on can be overlooked.

I was pleasantly surprised, or else the reviewer is right, and I was thinking things were going to be so bad, that no show could reach as low as my expectations had fallen.


What was fun?

First of all, the narrator of the show who turns to the audience and helps the plot line along for us, had a coarse humour that entertained many in the audience.

Amusing theatrical devices from other musicals peppered this show: a dog coming across the stage (Legally Blonde), the band in the centre of the stage (Jersey Boys, Backbeat, Chicago), confetti and streamers falling on the audience (Matilada), humorous German stereotypes (The Producers), a closing scene that wraps up what happens to all of our characters (Rent), and we see the hippy/rock culture, of California (Hair). A show is working pretty hard when it pays homage to so many shows that have preceded it.

Double Decker Bus in front of Shaftsbury Theatre
I missed the rock concerts of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. That makes me a table rasa when it comes to an informed critique of what I saw last night. The best I have done so far is to attend the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival. I am no match for real musical theatre critics. I don’t understand the tradition of the audience lighting candles or cigarette lighters and waving them to the music. People continue that tradition in this show. At the front exists of the theatres, two users cue  with their own lit cell phones, cue the audience, waving their own phones in half moons over their heads. Within eight bars, the theatre is full of bodies swaying and arms waving cell phones high overhead. When the song is over, the cell phones go back in people's laps until the ushers cue the audience again. That was fun!

The younger performers are amazing. The dance, they act, they play musical instruments, and they have fabulous voices. I was wondering who else would like this show.

I would recommend the show to Glen and Janet, Steve and Rebecca, ... anyone who loved the songs from the Motley Crue era.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Diaper Cake

We held a baby shower at our house on Tuesday night for 2 sisters who both had babies within 2 months of each other. It was a cousins party for two boys! Here is a photo of the Diaper Cake that dad helped me to create. It was too cute. I think I will make it again at the next baby shower. The most useful thing I learned at the shower came from a trivia game. What do they call diapers in Australia? See if you can guess.

Chekov's Three Sisters - Part II

From Rebecca -- one last word about Chekov

two friends,... the duel comes later....
 We never meet the married man’s children, but the wife keeps trying to kill herself every two or three years. The husband of the second sister loves his wife, is obsessed by her, knows about the trysts and at some point, the general leaves the community for they are going to be regarrisoned and that is going to be the end of the lover’s relationships.

This couple have never been willing to hide their happiness with each other. Now they have to part for the last time, but everyone is around, including her husband and the group of friends who have to pull her off of the lover. The husband is pulling her off of her lover, trying to comfort her, and their sisters are telling her stop, this is shameful. The husband is on her side and telling them, don’t be unkind to her, she needs help, we will never speak of this again.

Her lover who was bearded is leaving, the husband is clean shaven, and he pulls out of his pocket, a fake set of whiskers, puts them on and tries to comfort her.

Just painful.

I think about this as a play out of the 19th century, but the themes are so current: dreams are broken, marriages fail ... history.

Chekov's The Three Sisters

A note from Rebecca, typed by Arta, as we were talking this morning about our common experience of getting just a small taste of Russia:

Giving Gifts on a name day
In Chekov’s play, The Three Sisters, there are 3 sisters, with urban tastes but now they live in the country.  The oldest is a school mistress, she is exhausted, her beauty has faded and she is carrying the weight of growing older.

The middle sister is a big beauty, married to the headmaster, but unhappy in her marriage.  He is less cultured and cultivated than she is, now she is grown up.

The youngest sister is young, beautiful and all of the men in the surrounding area are interested in her.  Many suitors are n the house looking for her love.  Many other men are in the house for the pleasure of being with the 3 sisters who exude aristocratic word play, beauty, joy and sophistication.

Then a married man comes around the house who falls in love with the married sister and they have an affair.  One of the things the sisters like about the married man is he always breaking into philosophical statements.  So one of the men says of him, he is nice, but he has this regrettable tendency to philosophize.
So now, as a viewer of the play, when he breaks into wondrous pronouncements, I was reminded that philosophy does not renew, but keeps repeating itself in contexts where the promise it held at first seems less and less and thus the philosophizing becomes less gripping.
At the end of the play, he tries to articulate some philosophical pronouncement again and no one is listening.  He seems to have a desperate need to philosophize in order to ward off the terrors of the world.

Now, I was thinking about the Chekov play, the desire for a future to be better, coupled to a deep despair that it won’t be better.  That was beautiful in the play, in a Russian depressing way.  And I do feel myself wanting to say sometimes," I feel so terrible." 


Let me philosophize.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Fable of Rx

Bonnie went to see Dr. Ventor for a recurring problem. He said he had some answers. She asked him to write them out on a prescription pad for her. He said fine, he would and came back with it for her.

He had written and signed the following on one of his prescription pads:
What pill has positive effects on mood, body weight, sleep quantity and quality, lowers blood pressure, lipids, blood glucose, the risk of heart disease, some certain cancers, improves functional ability, overall quality of life, arthritis and extends life? 
Only exercise does all of these. Exercise 30-50 minutes 3-5 days a week.
She asked him if she could come back in a month so he could check and see how she is doing, and would he measure her girth – and not tell her the number.

He said yes. He went and got his tape measure. He measured her. He had to bend way down to look at the measurement. She knew he hadn’t taken Home Economics since he didn’t know to hold his finger there on the tape measure and then bring it up to his eyes. While he was down measuring, she said, “ I would like it in blue”, please, since it felt like she was getting measured by a tailor.

He said, “We are all out of blue.”

She said, “Skin tones will do.”

She took the prescription to the pharmacist because she had other pills to get. He looked at both prescriptions, the second one for a long time. Then he gave it back to her with a smile of his own saying he only had in stock medication for the first one and not for the other.

Thus endeth Bonnie Wyora’s fable of RX.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Going towards the High Streeet

... let me find the nutcrackers for those ...
I have been in three other women’s kitchens: Anita’s, Mary’s and now Rebecca’s.

Really been in them, as in ... they have left me the kitchen and their kids and all of us, especially the kids, are worried how we will stay alive until the moms get back.

Arta, an image on the side of a van
Rebecca’s sabbatical kitchen is minimalist, not making cooking pots here, so it was no surprise to me that I couldn’t find nutcrackers.

There has been a small white bowl on the counter since I came, and I decided I would get rid of that bowl, crack the nuts in it and use them in some baking.

I asked Steve if he had any idea where the nutcrackers were, since there are only 2 drawers here full of the miscellaneous kitchen tools that women usually have.

... a hint of spring on the ground ...

I have searched through the plastic popsicle container, the candy thermometer, the potato peeler, but no nutcrackers.

Steve was glad to ask me a leading question. “Why are you cracking the nuts that the kids picked up at the park when we were walking the dog?”

... Poundland ...
So instead of cooking I spent two hours today walking the High Street – with my camera.

What I like about having a camera is that I am learning to see things – really see them, as the camera captures them and not as I think they look.

Shadows still surprise me.

... a fence close to home ...
Sometimes even my own shadow surprises me.

Today when I was looking closely at a brick wall, I was surprised at the depth of the shadow in a crevice, so I found myself looking at the wall, then looking at the picture the camera captures, then looking at the monitor again.

What I stop to take pictures of, I can find at home: a dried hydrangea, red berries on brown twigs, a street that leads towards home.

... winter seasonal interest ...
I like the High Street towards which I was moving. There is a certain charm in calling a business “Poundland”.

... the walk towards home ...
There are a plethora of Rental businesses, and lots of restaurants: Chinese, Indian, Persian, the best Turkish food in Finchley, Sushi, Mediterranean and even a fish and chips shop.

I am also surprised at the number of places where you can stop and lay a bet.

Now that is something we don’t have at home.


P.S. Check out the poster in this shop.

Duncan's favorite shop sign
sounds like a Wanted Poster "Dead or Alive"
from the Wild West
--about the robber, Old Gold--

A Grandmother's Duty

Strawberry Tarts that look better than they taste!
"Grandma? Did you get groceries? Don’t you understand? It is your duty.”

That is the part that made me laugh, having never seen a list of duties for grandmothers.

I like shopping. Having someone else’s credit card in my hand and browsing up and down the isles, looking for good food is especially good. However, I have done that grocery shopped for nearly fifty years now, and some of the charm of buying groceries is gone. Rebecca took me on a dry run through the store before she left – picking up Nutella, shelf-life rice milk, Sainsbury’s skim milk, the products that really matter around here.

97% pure pork ... who knew?
Who would have thought there is a difference between buying Sainsbury pork sausages and Sainsbury 97% pork sausages? I congratulate myself just on getting meat into the cart and had no idea that the expectations would be so high on what I actually selected.

In previous trips to the grocery store I have only been an interested sight-seer, letting Wyona and Glen select the breads and cheeses, figure out which are the best desserts – that was a job for others, but not the task has landed on me. In fact ... as a duty. Somewhere in the back of my mind was the fact that you select a loaf and then take it to another counter to have it sliced, either medium or fat slices. But having the information and not having done the drill slowed me down considerably.

... choose your cheese ...
Rebecca had also taken me to the Indian store down when we had to drop in and have a document certified. “Who wrote this,” the solicitor asked. “I did,” she said. “Do you need to make any changes.” “No, it is fine,” he replied and she paid her 15 pounds to him instead of 50. That conversation was more interesting to me than marking the spot where the East Indian store was located – until yesterday when I wanted to make dahl. I have no idea why the idea struck me, but in cases of food urges, it is better to give in, I have learned. Having no ground cumin, no coriander, no turmeric, and no red lentils,  I slipped up and down side streets trying to find my way to a store, where, when my products were bagged, they said, "Oh, we don’t take Visa. Too expensive."

 “Then I will come back for these in a couple of hours when I have been home and dropped off these other groceries,” I said.

... buy pork, not fish ... it is your duty ...
I will always remember where the Indian Grocery Store is located for next door is NL Auctions – in business since 1977. “Oh, Wyona is going to kill me,” I thought, “when she finds out I am going to auctions without her.” I slipped in and enjoyed the thrill of the bidding. I don’t like to gamble. Watching the auction, and wondering what Wyona, especially, is going to do next at one? Now there is a rush there. I kept track of the prices for her. A 3-D Victorian slide-viewer, complete with cards -- £150. An ivory letter opener -- £20. I noted the viewing times and the date of the next auction: viewing on Sundays, and all day Mondays until the auction at 2 p.m. Perhaps I will find something small enough to bring back in my suitcase – no use looking at the beautiful furniture this round.

The clerk at the grocery store must not have believed I would return. When I did, picking up even more groceries and then cashing out at another till, the first clerk came over to me with some garlic and coriander naan, putting it so close to my face I could hardly see what it was.

“Do you like this?”

“Yes,” I say, although I am afraid of what he is going to ask next.

“Then I am giving you these 2 packages free of charge – they are dated to be used by tomorrow.”

Oh, London is fun!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The 193 steps

 ...Duncan at the beginning of our 7 hour adventure ...
Duncan and I have done our homework.

We had tickets to go to the Moscow State Gogol Theatre Performance of “Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka”.

We had previewed the show on YouTube, seven segments in all.

We had the plot down pat, had listened to the music, and had asked questions about what we had heard.

For example, I didn’t know what a sacristan is, since no one in my faith holds that holy office.

Duncan and I have been hanging out on the tube for some time now, and we have plans for what happens should one of us get on or off at a stop and the other be left behind.

Arta with her purse full of nutella sandwiches and asssorted sweets
We got to run our plan today.

The Piccadilly Line has five elevators that bring people up to Leicester Square.

We were waiting to get on elevator five, when I saw Duncan (and many other people) slip behind a pillar to go up elevator four.

Not wanting this to be the first time we were parted, I too, slipped over, and pushed my way onto the elevator, which was already full.

But half way to the top, I realized that I couldn’t see him anywhere in that over-sized elevator.

I got off at the top to wait for him to come up in the next elevator, but no Duncan and the security agent was asking me to go through the turnstile and wait for my lost grandson on the outside of the station.

Duncan beside the poster advertising the Russian play
Five minutes later, still no Duncan.

At the 10 minute mark I was figuring out what I was going to say to Steve when I called him.

At that point, I saw Duncan’s face on the other side of the barrier, but he was in an elevator going down and unable at that point to leap out.

I waved.

the theatre marque for English subtitles
Ten more minutes, and I couldn’t stand it any longer and told that Security Guard that I had to come back through the turnstile, for I had lost my grandson.

He asked for his name and then took me through a small corridor, and in that same corridor Duncan came rushing towards us.

Aah! My live was getting good again.

We pulled ourselves over to the side of the walkway that leads to Covent Garden and we talked. Duncan didn’t slip through to go up elevator four.

He was just looking for me, and when he figured out I was missing, he ran the 193 steps to the top of the line.

Not seeing me there, he got on the elevator to do back down, saw me wave, and so at the bottom again, he ran the 193 steps back up to the top. His cheeks were red by now, and he was limping from the charlie horses that were now in his legs.

After sharing with each other our sides of conflicting but similar stories, we stayed pretty much shoulder to shoulder, forearm to forearm for the rest of the day.

How is that for a theatre chandelier?
The Shaftsbury Theatre had the most unusual coloured chandeliers.

I didn’t know if the underwear that I saw hanging from them was for our show, or for the Rock of Ages show that is being presented at that theatre. Duncan and I decided that it was probably be for the night show and not for our show.

We were right.

Our seats were in the Grand Circle, which is less grand than the Royal Circle, and even further away from the stage than the Stalls.

Still, our tickets had been the right price.

The Shaftsbury Stage:  the sky and the earth covered with snow
Of all of the events we have attended since I have been here, this one took the most energy from us.

The English subtitles to the show ran by on a marquee, too fast for us to both enjoy the show and to enjoy the explanation of the words that were being said in Russian on the stage.

We were watching a three hour folk tale from another culture, and even though we had done our homework, there was much in the fable that we were missing.

The Russian dancing was live – and intricate.

My favourite character was the devil, who in this show, had only one night left to teach people how to sin.  Hard not to be interested in that premise.

Duncan could remember the hero and heroine’s name (Vakula and Oksana) when the play was over, so he gets 10/10 for points from me.

We know every Subway (Restaurant) in town,
ones that are close to a theatre we have been to.
A foot-long subway, drink and chips gave Duncan enough energy to make it home, where he begged his father to make me stop taking him out to see London on the weekends.

I will be leaving in ten days so his life will soon get easier, and some other grandchild’s life will get harder.